It has been 207 Days since Booster Gold last appeared in a DCnU comic book.
Friday, September 19, 2014
The world's first 3D cover to feature the world's best hero will be released on Wednesday when Booster Gold: Futures End #1 arrives in your Local Comic Shop. (Yippee!)
As happy as we are that Booster is participating in September's Futures End madness, if ever there was a month of cover gimmicks that should have seen a Booster Gold entry, it was August's "Selfie" covers. Mike Becker shows us what we missed:
Thursday, September 18, 2014
The good news for those of your not reading Smallville is that despite appearing on the cover, Booster Gold plays no role in Smallville: Continuity #1. Unless you're collecting all Booster Gold covers, you can skip that one when it comes to your Local Comic Shop in December.
Last week's poll question: Are you enjoying the adventures of Booster Gold in Smallville Season 11? (28 votes)
I've spent the last three days talking about Black Beetle. So what do you say? Have I convinced any of you to come to the same conclusion I did?
This week's poll question: Who do you think the Black Beetle is?
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
...He's come from the future in his own a Time Sphere (Booster Gold #6). He knows a thing or two about the history of the Blue Beetles (Booster Gold #5). He "says wild stuff to throw you off your game" (Booster Gold #26). Sound like anyone we know?
Nope. Not him.
While it's possible that Booster Gold is the Black Beetle, it wouldn't be very satisfying. Let's face it, Booster isn't the most heroic of heroes, so seeing an "evil" version of our favorite morally-grey time-traveler wouldn't be much different that Peter Platinum from Booster Gold #1,000,000 or the bartender in JLA Classified #8. It is certainly hard to imagine a Booster Gold who would destroy the universe for a scarab instead of just manipulating time to make a profit on the stock market.
No, the clues scattered through the second volume of Booster Gold and Time Masters: Vanishing Point indemnify someone else. Someone who shares Booster Gold's bloodline. Someone whose real identity remains a mystery to our Corporate Crusader.
Let's go through our Black Beetle clues again: he knows the future (Booster Gold #0). He knows his way around Vanishing Point (Booster Gold #21). The Linear Men have no record of his existence (Time Masters: Vanishing Point #5). He's "the most devious guy ever" (Booster Gold #26). He assembled a team he named in reference to the Time Masters and his goal is "complete mastery over time" (Time Masters: Vanishing Point #2). He employs subordinates to do his job so that he can remain a shadowy puppet-master (Booster Gold #22). Can you see where this is going?
In Booster Gold #26, Skeets refuses to share the scans of the Black Beetle with Rip Hunter, doubting that Hunter will follow up on the information the scans contain. Why would Skeets question its programmer, Rip Hunter, unless there was evidence that might throw doubt on Rip's integrity or benevolence? Skeets has never had any qualms about turning over information on Booster if it was the right thing to do. (Remember that Skeets sided with Superman against Booster in Booster Gold volume 1 #7.) So what would make Skeets reluctant to cooperate unless there was evidence that Black Beetle and Rip Hunter were the same person?
Most of the clues that point away from Rip Hunter can be ascribed to the Black Beetle's self-professed affinity for misdirection, as stated in Booster Gold #21. However, in that same issue, there is a confrontation between Rip Hunter and Black Beetle that makes it fairly clear that neither knows the other's identity. How can we account for this failure for each to recognize the other as himself? And why would Rip Hunter program Skeets with the autonomy to defy him if he was really up to no good?
Given that we're talking about comic books, it's possible that Rip is suffering from some condition transforming him into an amnesiac Jekyll and Hyde. It's also possible, as Russ Burlingame suggested in the Boosterrific Forum in 2011, that Rip Hunter has an evil brother he doesn't know about. (Twins do run in the Carter family, after all!) I think a far more likely explanation lies not in the Carter family genetics but in the in Carter family business: time travel. Black Beetle is Rip Hunter, but not the Rip Hunter from the timeline we know.
Think this solution is far fetched? Consider the Linear Men who appear in Time Masters: Vanishing Point. They are DC Comic's original post-Crisis on Infinite Earths time police, and they, too, have their own version of Rip Hunter who is different than the man we know as Booster Gold's son. The Rip Hunter seen in Legends of the DC Universe 80-Page Giant #1 cannot be the Rip Hunter we know. Just as Matthew Ryder and Waverider are the same man from different timelines, the Linear Men's Hunter and ours must be alternate history versions of the same person. (Keep in mind that the Linear Men, Matthew Ryder, and Waverider were all created by the same man who wrote the aforementioned Legends of the DC Universe: Dan Jurgens!)
Black Beetle tells us that the willingness of the Linear Men to tolerate survivors of alternate histories is what led to their falling out with Rip Hunter in Time Masters: Vanishing Point #3. We can't take Black Beetle's word for anything, but his story is corroborated by the Linear Men themselves in the very next issue. Is Black Beetle giving us a hint to his own origin?
While both Black Beetle and Rip Hunter might be "Joshua Carter" (note the repetition of the "Jo-" prefix in the name of both Booster and his father, Michael Jon and Jon "Jonar" Carter), by the very nature of alternate timelines, the history that created Black Beetle will differ from whatever events led to the birth of our Rip Hunter. Our Rip Hunter knows who his family is and took up the family business. Black Beetle may not even be aware that Booster Gold is his father despite inheriting his father's talent for time travel and affinity for all things Beetle! This would explain why Black Beetle would be willing to kill his own ancestor, Daniel Carter, in Time Masters: Vanishing Point #6. It wouldn't be the first time a comic-book orphan turned to evil owing to a lack of parenting!
Time Travel is dangerous business. Change the smallest bit of history, and heroes become villains. Will we ever know the "true" identity of the Black Beetle? Only time will tell.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014
This is the second part of our investigation of Black Beetle's secret identity. Follow this link to Part 1.
Fact: Black Beetle claims to have an alien Reach scarab just like Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes. (Booster Gold #6)
Fact: Supernova calls Black Beetle "Joshua." (Booster Gold #7)
Fact: Black Beetle calls himself "Jaime Reyes' greatest enemy." (Booster Gold #10)
Fact: Black Beetle explains to Ted Kord that if Jaime Reyes never becames the third Blue Beetle, "he'll never take her away from me!" (Also Booster Gold #10)
Where do these facts all lead?
Hector and his sister Nadia joined Blue Beetle's supporting cast in January 2007, a full year before the Black Beetle made his debut. He assisted Jaime Reyes for years before Nadia was abruptly killed. Hector blamed Jaime and disappeared, apparently borrowing the identity (and maybe the scarab) of Djo-Zha, a Reach agent who also felt betrayed by Reyes. The name Djo-Zha was misunderstood as "Joshua." (All in Blue Beetle #36.)
See how the facts fit together to indicate that Hector became the Black Beetle? If you still doubt, keep in mind that Black Beetle all but admits it! In the "Blue Beetle" backup feature in Booster Gold #24, Black Beetle taunts Blue Beetle with Nadia's death before confessing that his anger at Jaime's indifference to his sister's death drove him to madness and villainy.
That's it. Case closed. Black Beetle is Hector. Until you turn the page and Black Beetle denies it all, claiming instead to have killed Hector and taken the Djo-Zha scarab. So what's the truth here?
This takes a little digging behind the scenes: according to a "Gold Exchange" intervew that Russ Burlingame conducted with Booster Gold writer Dan Jurgens and Blue Beetle writer Matt Sturges in 2009, Sturges wrote Hector's story in Blue Beetle #36 (April 2009) without the approval or coordination of Dan Jurgens. Blue Beetle #36 doesn't declare that Black Beetle is Hector, so the hints were simply revealed in Booster Gold #24 (November 2009) to be baseless lies and misdirection.
If the Black Beetle can't be trusted to tell us the truth about anything, we're going to have to start look at his actions and not his words to decipher his identity. So what have we seen him do? He manipulates time itself! That leads us to our next suspect:
A former Time Master gone bad, Rex Hunter (aka Jason Goldstein) is everything Rip Hunter isn't. He's a loud-mouth braggart (Booster Gold #5) who isn't afraid to murder or manipulate history (Booster Gold #4) so long as it makes him "time's ultimate master" (Booster Gold #18). Surviving his own murder as a being of pure chronal energy that can move through the timestream, he knows the past and future and the secrets of Vanishing Point. The similarities to Black Beetle are pretty striking, and they don't stop there.
Remember that Black Beetle told Ted Kord that he must live so that Jaime Reyes never becomes the Blue Beetle? In Booster Gold #18, Rex wants to destroy the scarab so that the lineage of the Blue Beetles will never come to pass. It's the same plan. If Rex is the Black Beetle, and the Black Beetle hates Jaime Reyes so much that he'd destroy history to ruin him, what difference does it make how he prevents Jaime from obtaining the scarab so long as Jaime never obtains the scarab?
But why would the Time Stealers recruit two different versions of Black Beetle into their ranks? And if the Time Stealers killed Rex Hunter as a baby to turn him into a creature of pure chronal energy that later became Black Beetle, why would Rex keep working with the Time Stealers who killed him? These unanswerable questions seem to preclude the possibility that Rex and Black Beetle are the same person.
Ok, so Rex Hunter is out. Who else fits the bill as a time-traveling history-buff obsessed with the Blue Beetle? Uh-oh.
Monday, September 15, 2014
If we're going to find out who Black Beetle is, we have to start with a few basic assumptions, the first and foremost of which is that such a deduction is possible. If Black Beetle is someone we've never met before, any further detective work is folly. Fortunately for us, this primary assumption is reinforced by genre convention as well as on panel in Booster Gold #17 (in Scar's vision of the future) and Booster Gold #25 (when Skeets scans Black Beetle). Therefore, it's fairly safe to say that we'll know who Black Beetle is when we finally meet him (especially since that's what Dan Jurgens has said, according to "Gold Exchange" columnist Russ Burlingame in 2009).
Assuming that Black Beetle is likely to be someone we already know, we can begin our list of suspects with characters who have already crossed the path of Booster Gold. That includes characters we are really familiar with, like:
Let's start here, if for no other reason than to scratch it off the list. There is almost no reason to believe this is possible.
Yes, in Booster Gold #10, Black Beetle insists that Ted Kord must not die, but that's probably not self-preservation so much as it is hatred of Jaime Reyes. Yes, in Booster Gold #25, Black Beetle teases Jaime about a future meeting with Ted Kord, but that's a tease about the upcoming "Blackest Night" event crossover, not his own future. And yes, someone broke into Kord Industries in Booster Gold #1,000,000, but that was probably Booster Gold from the future, not an evil Ted Kord.
Besides, Ted is dead. Introducing Ted Kord as Jaime Reyes' greatest enemy in the middle of an adventure in which Booster Gold breaks time in order to save Ted Kord... well, that's a hard sell, even in a comic book about time paradoxes.
No, if any Blue Beetle is the Black Beetle:
In Booster Gold #10, Black Beetle calls himself Jaime Reyes' greatest enemy. He claims to have the same alien Reach scarab as the other Blue Beetles (Booster Gold #6), and he's certainly done his homework about the Blue Beetles and their fate (Booster Gold #4 and #5). He even wears a costume that looks strikingly similar to Jaime's. That's all circumstantial evidence at best, but there's more.
The strongest evidence that Black Beetle is Jaime Reyes comes from the Black Beetle himself when he taunts Jaime in Booster Gold #25. To hear Black Beetle tell it, he has traveled back in time to attack Reyes' family in order to ensure that Jaime Reyes is set on the path that will ultimately "turn a future hero into a monster." That would make the Black Beetle the future incarnation of Jaime Reyes himself!
In addition to being another time paradox, it's not the most convincing story. (If the Black Beetle has Jaime's sentient scarab, why doesn't he talk to it or use it in the same ways that Jaime does?) However, it does explain why Black Beetle suddenly materialized from thin air to pointlessly taunt Jaime in the previous issue, and it does tie-in well with the unexpected emergence of bloodlust in Jaime's scarab.
So is the Black Beetle a liar? Probably. But maybe he's lying to disguise a more plausible origin story that he all but confirmed in the previous issue. We'll cover that possibility tomorrow.
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